STACEY WOOD - The Dominion Post | Wednesday, 10 December 2008
OCEAN-GOERS: Manihera Forbes, left, and Hekenukumai Puhipi, aka Hector Busby, crew on the waka Te Aurere. Photo: MAARTEN HOLL/The Dominion Post
Tales of over-friendly orcas and a broken paddle arrived with the waka Te Aurere, which has berthed in Titahi Bay.
The double-hulled ocean-going Te Aurere has voyaged the Pacific to Rarotonga, Hawaii, the Marquesas and New Caledonia, but is now circumnavigating the North Island with the aim of reaching Waitangi on February 6. It anchored at Porirua on Monday.
At each port of call, the crew head to the local marae to talk about their travels and take one or two people along for the next leg of the journey.
Manihera Forbes learned to skipper on Te Aurere and said everyone who came on board learned something new. His latest learning curve came a couple of weeks ago, when the kauri steering paddle broke. "It was a pretty loud crack, and I thought `choice, what do we do now'. I'd never seen that happen before."
Then came a close encounter with killer whales when crew members were swimming off the Kapiti Coast.
"One of the guys said, `Look at the big fish!' and we saw these huge fins. We just turned and went straight for the rocks - as soon as we got started they just beelined for me and my mate.
"Then there were six orcas bunting and snorting at the rock we're on, and it's not a big rock. We got the guys to come right over and get us, there was no way we were going back in."
Hekenukumai Puhipi, known to many as Hector Busby, has travelled with Te Aurere since he helped build it in the early 1990s.
He said the journey around Te Ika a Maui was so far the best of them all, and had been emotional at times.
"Coming into Hokianga, it can be a rough bar - we got in, in spite of a few close calls. I could see white waves right across the entrance and my knees started shaking, I thought it might be our ancestors having us on. It is a traditional place, where Kupe stayed .. I didn't let the boys know my knees were knocking though."
Te Aurere is scheduled to leave Porirua on January 3, be in Wellington from January 4 to 6, in Napier from January 8 to 10 and in Gisborne from January 13 to 15.